Here at JTF, we pride ourselves on keeping up to date with the latest innovations in prosthetics, limb differences, and amputee care. That’s why it’s so interesting to take a trip through the past to learn about how ancient prosthetics have evolved through the course of history!

Amputations go back to at least the Neolithic era – that’s about 5,000 years ago for you non-history buffs! Scientists have found amputee skeletons dating back to at least this time period. Evidence of ancient prosthetics, however, don’t show up until much later.

We don’t exactly know when the first prosthesis was invented, but a fourth century BC. vase depicts a man with a wooden prosthetic leg. Archaeologists also unearthed a bronze leg dating from 300 BC. One can imagine a bronze leg probably can’t move as fast as some of the modern artificial limbs!


The Jordan Thomas Foundation works hard to provide the very latest in artificial limbs for the children we sponsor, not just for now, but until they become adults. If you’d like to contribute to our work by donating, please feel free to do so by clicking here. We have other ways to get involved as well, including ways to refer a child to our foundation. To learn more, visit here.

Fast-forward to the sixteenth century, when innovations in technology gave way to more advanced artificial limbs. Gotz von Berlichingen invented an iron hand that could be manipulated to perform simple tasks through a set of leather straps and pulleys.

In the seventeenth century we see the ancestor to the modern corset-style prosthetic leg – an invention of Pieter Verduyn who found a way to include a joint at the knee, greatly increasing mobility for amputees. Nowadays computers, lightweight materials, and nanotechnology are paving the way for artificial limbs that look and behave more like the real thing!